My father is an entrepreneur. He has been all his life.

His family had their own garage business so since he was little he worked there. He then also created his own business: a series of night clubs/pubs that he run (and DJ’ed for ;)); later on some popcorn and other candy machines that he placed at cinemas (I spent many afternoons watching E.T., Gremlins and other movies in the 80’s for free while my parents worked there), to eventually create a factory that fried and packaged crisps and popcorn and many other “lekker” things that he delivered himself (and also other drivers) to bigger supermarkets and shops.

He then expanded to also sell directly those in shops we owned, and self-run (my mum daily there without one day off, my dad making bread early in the morning, myself and my brother helping when needed, even my sister in law worked for us as a shop attendant for a while), while keeping the factory partially alive until it some day had to close; and finally, retired a few years ago.

Finding the right brand name

Many business to run, many business to start and manage. And… they all started with an idea and deciding on a name. How to find the right company name?

From this personal experience I have seen many different ways to tackle this. Here are some thoughts of how to go about it

  • Find a keyword that relates to your core product/service and create a fun link around it . e.g. an old word for popcorn in Spanish is Cotufa. My dad changed it around to use K instead of C as that sounded a bit more Basque, which is were the business was located – which comes as a link to next tip
  • Find a keyword that relates to the location where your business is (e.g city, known character) – e.g. Celedon is the main character on the city festivals.
  • Find an image or character that is widely known (and has no copyright issues – this is important, we could have been in trouble when our family shops were called Zipi Zape, a cartoon character!)
  • Find an imagery that represents your core value – e.g. a bow meaning hospitality.
  • Use an acronym using names (e.g. first or last names of family members) or combined words – can have no meaning at all.

Deciding on a company name can be a tough job, because it will be your first interaction with your clientele , and the impression they get from that name (and your logo and your web, but we will get to that a bit later) might make it or break it for their decision to purchase or engage with you.

In an international and multicultural world, where we are all connected and access to business is much less local than before, finding the right name that will work for different languages can be a daunting task too.

My best friend was recently brainstorming for her artistic name – she makes beautiful paintings with carbon pen – and she was struggling with it because using a Spanish name for herself can be really limiting in the future – especially when you want to use a name that contains Ñ ! – and some English names linked to the one she wanted in Spanish had a negative association when translated back. Ouch! (If you are curious, she has finally decided for a mixed approach: miss_rayas)

At The Thinking Hut we also had a lot of thoughts and brainstorming around our name when we started concepting our co-working space. I cannot remember how many we had, and how many we discarded until we finally decided on The Thinking Hut. We had some keywords we started to link from: creativity, cosy, professional, the fact that we were 5 partners, the old stables … At some point we did revolve around the idea from Edward de Bono’s creativity tool: the Six Thinking Hats. That, and the coziness of the space, seemed to make it 😉

Next step… a Logo

We had a name, so we had to make it visually attractive and self-recognizable!

We had the luxury of having a fantastic designer and art director within our partner team, who developed a full brand identity for us, not just the logo, and provided a full exploration linked to it. We are super proud of our logo and what it represents: our location as a linking point in the black block, and the multiple profiles and personalities of the Thinkers in the coloured blocks.

Color seems to be an important element on choosing a logo. Ours has many different ones, and they do have a reason for existing, as explained, but research shows that color increases brand recognition by up to 80%. (University of Loyola). So, make sure to add some color to yours, if you want your clientele to remember you!

As said, our position was of luxury for this; however, investing in your brand is never a waste, and it is important to have that attitude when you get started. Oftentimes, companies decide to just get a cheap logo, to “get going” and end up spending a lot more time later to re-design, re-print, re-brand when their business takes off a little and the logo seems old, outdated, ugly… this was the case of a company I worked for before – their original logo let’s say kindly that it could have been better…–  I do have a sample of that logo that if the company makes it big I could probably sell for some good money in the future ;).

Obviously if your strategy is to get a bad logo, I have a suggestion for you: http://www.horriblelogos.com/ – they guarantee that your logo will suck, so if I would have to go for an embarrassing logo, I would definitely go for them !

And others?

When asking our Thinkers about their company names and logos, we understood that generally, they put a lot of thought into the name and the design of their logo when they first started their company.

Most of them have a background for it, there is a reason for their brand, and a vast majority decided on going the extra mile to get a proper logo designed. Not everyone hit it right at the first time, and while growing and developing, they noticed the need to redesign their logo to better fit their new strategy; however, their brand name was never changed.

And what about YOU? Did you follow any specific path to get to your company name, and to develop your logo? Did you choose a not so good logo to get by and upgraded later? Are you happy with it now?